Are you living in a big city yet looking for ways to feed your family without having to go to the grocery store once to twice a week? Let me tell you a bit about how we do it. We have about a 1/2 acre of yard space and most of it is in our front yard. Some would call it not enough space to do really anything with, I disagree.
Vegtables & Fruit
Throughout the years we have had many different layouts in our yard, and I’m sure it will be many more. As things change, our family and livestock grow or shrink, and things move around. Currently, we have twelve, three-foot by four-foot raised garden beds, growing all year around. The benefit of having so many is you are able to rotate crops based on seasons and make sure the dirt is getting what it need for nutrition, this will guarantee growth. We have grown from beets, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and leeks to winter squash, and still growing!
I have yet to harvest the fruit this year, but it was planted! We now have raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, apples, and strawberries. The fruit I’d say will be the most work involved as we will need to make sure the wild berries don’t go too crazy and keep things looking tidy on our hill.
On top of that, I have found a food shelf that runs a free produce event every Thursday throughout the summer, at the end of the event each week are LARGE bags of leftover produce which they donate to me and I distribute to my family, our church body and for those in St Paul who are in need.
With all this food coming my way during the summer and the most bountiful growing season, it is time for preserving. A large part of the produce gets canned. Most of the fruit gets turned into sauce or canned whole, I also made some delicious apple butter this year. Have you ever heard of ‘mock mango‘ or ‘mock pineapple’? It’s zucchini canned in mango or pineapple juice, the kids LOVE it.
Dehydrating produce is another favorite. We dehydrate potatoes for later hashbrowns or hotdishes, apples for snacks, really any fruit, any hot peppers, cucumbers, and of course the herbs, if they were hung dried. Storing the dehydrated food I use Weyers food storage bags, this is my first year with those and so far I am loving it. I used to store in glass jars with air-tight tops, yet moisture would sometimes still get in. These bags come in 3 different sizes, I have been using the large for all my potatoes, the medium for smaller batches of carrots, or onions, and the small are perfect for apples, as a kid can have one bag each. Just like candy or a snack from the store, right??
Our chickens are dual purpose, so yes, we do butcher them, eventually. St Paul allows fifteen birds, we may push this at times. This allows us to secure 8 egg layers and 7 to 9 meat birds, it typically is the rooster that is not allowed in the city that gets picked off first. My plan next year is to secure a flock of 10 meat birds (8 weeks till fully grown) in our new fenced-in shed for butchering.
Another way to do this is getting to know local hobby farmers, most will do a round every year where you can purchase their birds and maybe even help with butchering day! I’m thankful for the friends we have, as we were able to bring home 30 birds this year and have an amazing time during the butcher days. The kids got to play, watch or help if they desire, the best homeschool day you can have. I teach them about the heart, liver, and stomach parts, I am a science freak and body parts interest me so I think that might be where my kids find the interest in it.
I roasted 12 birds and shredded their meat, after that, I loaded the meat into jars and canned it away. This provides us with easy, precooked chicken for stews, soups, or chili. Our other birds are in the freezer awaiting to be eaten when the time is right. I’m currently considering trying to make chicken jerky, should I??
This is one I have yet to find a farmer to provide me with wheat, rice, oats, and barley, but I do grow wheat and corn for my chickens on our hill, it’s not much but it’s something! Currently, I buy bulk brown rice at Mikes Discount Food when they have it available, was given a crazy amount of red lentils and for the moment I buy our wheat flour off amazon or Whole Foods is it now? Wheat and rice are the only grains we have on hand at the moment which we store in food-grade five-gallon buckets in the basement and have a smaller glass container upstairs that we reload when it runs out. I just found out about those Weyer bags I was telling you about. They have five-gallon bucket bags!!!!! I NEED them…
Start storing!! With everything I grow, or score at the free produce place, we have not needed to go buy much produce and NO meat from the store in TWO YEARS. Our meat is not just chicken, we do buy whole cows from our dairy farmer. It’s not impossible to be self-sufficient living in the city. Find what works for you, work the system, and beat the odds. You can do this with me!